No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Friday, 18 July 2014


Here's where I'll post my planning and preparation for this workshop.

And here I've posted the result of a similar workshop I held in High Ham village hall, High Ham, Somerset in December 2013.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


(Read about my 12 month's experience of IF here. Which caused my excellent blood results here!) 

Last week I was invited to address my local Humanist group (Taunton Humanists) on the subject of Intermittent Fasting (IF) - here are my notes for the talk I gave:

In the 1930s, studies on mice discovered that calorie restriction (CR) resulted in longer-living, thinner, healthier mice

…and many studies since have confirmed this finding with a variety of animals – rats, rhesus monkeys, worms – and even yeast!

Around the middle of the last decade several scientist/researchers in the US and in Manchester here, revisited this research and began their own studies.

In August 2012 Dr Mike Mosley’s Horizon programme ,which investigated current US research into longevity, Calorie Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF), was broadcast.

(Here’s a review by Brad Pilon, author of Eat, Stop, Eat, who has been practicing IF since 2006. His is a website well worth browsing!

Friday, 11 July 2014


On Monday and Tuesday next week - 14th and 15th of July - I'll be making bread with Yr 4s and 5s - the whole year groups! About 60 youngsters each morning.

Each child will make two different shaped rolls - of her/his choosing.

Here's the email i've sent to the teacher outlining how we're going to set about it:

Dear Teacher

Looking forward to next week!

Here’s the plan:
For each class of 30, I shall need 10 tables arranged in the form of a U-Shape with a table at the top of the U for me plus a separate table for my equipment/ingredients.

(When I’ve done this before, teachers have found it easier to use the same room for each group of students, if that’s possible, of course.)

Students will be in groups of three, one group to each table. There will be a mixing bowl, cup and teaspoon to each table.

After a demo from me, each group will make a batch of dough. After another demo – this time of shaping – the students will divide the dough in three so each student will have one third of the dough to make 2 rolls each.

Each student’s dough needs to be identified by a number made out a small piece of dough. I’ll give each student a number and demonstrate the way to do this.

Each group of students will share a baking tray, lined with baking paper, which I’ll have with me.

I shall need:
Lukewarm water (for the yeast liquid)
Name labels and marker pen
Flip chart or whiteboard for the ingredients.
A table or tables against a wall somewhere to put my ovens. (In my daughter’s school they used a couple of ovens which were in their activity room.)

Unless you’ve already arranged this, I’ll have small plastic bags for the students’ bread. The name labels can be re-used on the bags, so there’s no confusion.
Just to add that my main teaching aim is for everyone to have fun in my sessions – students, support workers, me!
I think that’s it.
Can’t remember if I’ve given you this link before – it’s about the session I did last year with my daughters Yr 5 intake:
And here’s some info on the educational benefits of breadmaking:
I’ll be there about 8.30 on Monday morn!
Cheers, Paul

I'll put the story up of how the sessions went, next week. With pics, if I can just remember to take some!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

BREADMAKING MADE EASY, Burnham on Sea, Somerset

Andy's 4-strand plait and smiley face!
Satisfying breadmaking session at Burnham on Sea Somerset Skills and Learning centre, this morning.

Only 4 students, one of whom was a regular bread baker, with the other three being novices, attended, and they all went home with 5 different varieties of bread.

Thursday, 3 July 2014


Eric made these Chelsea buns at Longrun House, Taunton, where I run a weekly session:

Garlic paste and roasted red pepper breads
We made the buns by rolling out the dough, spreading garlic paste over it, followed by chopped peppers. The dough was then rolled up and cut into buns.

The other two loaves, made by Vicky and Adrian, were layered with the same filling, then one was given the focaccia treatment, the other was done in the style of a fougasse.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


I cooked 500g of dried r-k beans today, for the freezer.

They looked so lovely, whilst they were drying out prior to freezing them, I just had to share them with you!

1.171kg of pure wholesomeness! They not only taste good - but they look good as well!
I prefer to used dried pulses for several reasons:
Firstly, the cost. At £1.09 in the supermarket, these are great value for money.
Secondly, the quality is always consistent. That is, provided you turn over your stock so that you're always using 'fresh' beans.
Thirdly, you can use as many or as few as you wish. I tend to just grab a handful from the freezer and add them to whatever veg stew I'm cooking at the time.
Fourthly, they're environmentally friendly. Instead of approximately 5 tin cans, only one plastic bag is needed to package them. So there is less transport cost involved - 500g in the packet as against 2.4kg in the tins.
Fifthly, they are possibly healthier - although the jury's still out on whether tinned foods pose any health risks.

Soaking, cooking and freezing:
Use a large saucepan to cook the beans. Cover with 

[More to come - obviously!]

Monday, 16 June 2014

5:2 DIET - SIMPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE (VEGAN) - revised version

Here's my original recipe - but when you've made something as often as I've made this, you're bound to come up with a few tweaks. Hence the need for this recipe.
The finished article - I'm not bothered about icing, or filling, I just love it on its  own.
Ingredients:200g granulated sugar
25g cocoa powder

165g self raising flour (I use the cheapest I can find)
80g vegetable oil
250g water

Place the sugar and the cocoa powder in a mixing bowl and stir quite briskly - this prevents the cocoa powder from forming lumps, then add the flour. Stir the dry ingredients together using a whisk - once again, this should prevent the flour from forming clumps*. Now add the oil and water and stir, initially with a dessertspoon, then with the whisk. When this mix is smooth, pour into a prepared 20cm (8") silicon cake form. (all I do is place a disc of baking paper on the bottom of the cake form - just to make sure it comes away cleanly.)

After baking and before turning out

Place in a microwave (800W) for 6 minutes. This cake (most cakes, probably) rises quite a bit higher when baked in a microwave - perhaps by as much as 25%!

*All this to save using a sieve! :)
165 flour = 355 x 1.65 = 586
200 sugar = 400 x 2 = 800
25 cocoa powder = 355 x .25 = 89
80 oil = 900 x .8 = 720

Total= 2195

The finished cake weighed 640g. 13 slices at around 50g each, say, would give 170 calories a slice.

Last time I checked, the ingredients came to 70p – or 5.5p a slice.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


A plain, ordinary focaccia - nonetheless, a gorgeous bit of bread!

On Sunday I returned from a fantastic walking weekend in mid-Wales - with 35 other blokes, here. We do this every six months or so - basically eating, drinking and walking from Friday midday until Sunday lunchtime. 

On Saturday evening, after dinner, for a bit of light entertainment - and education - I generally do a breadmaking demo. On this occasion I'd brought along a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, so I thought we'd make a couple of focaccias - one plain, with just olive oil, and the other with s-d-tomatoes.

The recipe is simplicity itself - as with any bread you can make it as easy or as complicated as you wish. With the audience I had, who'd just had a very good meal - preceded by a goodly intake of beer, accompanied with wine and followed by a very good port - and were keen to get stuck into the card games that were always an integral part of these weekends, I went for the easy option!

I enlisted the help of one of the newcomers to the group, Charlie, who was keen to make his own bread - he made the loaf at the top of the post.

So the ingredients for each loaf were two mugs of bread flour, with a bit of salt, 2/3rds of a mug of lukewarm water and a good teaspoon of yeast, along with a glug of olive oil. 

Mixed altogether into a dough - takes about 2 minutes - kneaded for a further two minutes, pressed into a rough circle about 1.5cm thick and placed onto a prepared baking tray. 

With the plain one a few holes were simply pressed in the top of the dough with the  fingertips which were then filled with olive oil.

The second one was divided into 9 sections, a la noughts and crosses. A whole sun-dried tomato was place in each of these squares and pressed down a bit. (It would have been better to nick the surface of the dough first, to allow the tomatoes a better purchase, as several fell off the top of the loaf during baking!)

While the dough was proving, I began a game of chess - which resulted in the dough being horrifically over-proved. However, we (only just!) managed to get away with it!

Shaped and put to prove

Over proved and over baked, I'm afraid - the hazards of an unfamiliar oven
The s-d-tomato focaccia was not only over-proved, it was over-baked and the tomatoes were singed on top - but it didn't seem to make any difference to the flavour of the loaf, which was excellent!

Just goes to show the forgiving nature of breadmaking - you can get away with most things!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Seitan generally:

Seitan is wheat gluten powder (available online from the Low Carb Megastore ) mixed with something tasty into a stiff dough. The tasty stuff (ragu sauce, lentil curry, dried apricots [soaked overnight], or whatever) can be mashed or blitzed with a hand blender. This latter produces a thick slurry to which you add gluten powder. I generally work on the ratio of 2 parts slurry to one part gluten powder - but you may have to add either more GP or liquid. In my experience you need to heavily spice your slurry - over-spice it if you like.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Wednesday 21st May 2014
Finally poste a pic of these!
Farthing buns - made in my care home session.

19th Jan 2012
I first came across these in The Sunday Times Book of Real Bread, many years ago, recipe by Brian Binns. I've changed it quite a bit, but the basic technique is the same. 

200g (1 mug) strong white flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
100g sultanas
125ml (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of any sort of yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil

50g Pure or sunflower margarine, chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to use

After it comes out of the oven: Brush with a glaze made with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 dsp boiling water

1.     Measure the water and stir the yeast until it has dissolved (dried yeast takes a little longer than fresh). Place the flour, sugar and dried fruit into a mixing bowl, and mix to distribute the ingredients. Pour in the yeast liquid and add the olive oil.

2.     Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3.     Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4.     Form the dough into a round, then, using flour to stop the dough sticking, roll it out into a rectangle roughly the size of an A4 sheet. Spread the margarine over 2/3rds of the dough and fold it into three. Keeping the worktop floured, roll the dough out again until it is big enough to fold into three again. Carefully now, because the dough is quite fragile, roll it out again to a 15-18cm square. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 9 pieces, as if you’re playing noughts and crosses (3 x 3). Place them on a prepared baking sheet.

5.     Cover and leave to prove on your worktop (preferably not on top of a warm oven) until the dough is risen and puffy.

6.     Bake for about 15 minutes at 220C 425F or gas mark 7, checking the colour underneath the buns – they should be browned evenly across the bottom. Brush them with the glaze when they come out of the oven